As we continue to move forward in the digital age, a new era of the Internet is emerging: the web3.
Much of what is (and can be) is up in the air, but one question we can try to answer now is what this means for marketers.
Let’s take a look at what web3 is, when it will launch, and how it could impact marketers in the short and long term.
What is Web3?
Web three, or the third generation of the Internet, is a vision of a more decentralized web that puts power in the hands of users instead of big tech companies like Google, Amazon, and Netflix. It is built on blockchains using existing infrastructure with the goal of making the internet more accessible, private, and secure for users.
To understand what it is, let’s take a trip down memory lane.
At the end of the 90s, the world discovered the first version of the Internet. It wasn’t as complex as it is today, with just basic fonts, gray buttons, and blue hyperlinks. It’s very reminiscent of how a website would load today stripped of HTML.
Then it evolved into Web 2 around 2005, a phase in which consumers could consume content like never before on blogs, and later, on social media.
However, as the Internet has evolved, so have the methods businesses use to market to consumers online. This has led to growing privacy concerns among consumers who struggle to trust their data in the hands of brands.
Although the FTC has created safeguards around data privacy, there are still many things that leave consumers wary.
Look at the evolution of Amazon. What was once an online bookstore has now morphed into a tech conglomerate with its hands in e-commerce, digital streaming, cloud computing and artificial intelligence.
In a deep dive into the business, comedian Hasan Minaj claimed on his Netflix show “The Patriot Act” that Amazon controls the most important commodity of the 21st century: data.
“Data on how we spend our money and what parts of the internet we use,” he says.
For many, this is a frightening realization. This is where Web3 comes in.
The goal is for this new iteration of the internet to empower consumers to own and operate technology platforms themselves instead of sacrificing their data by relying on big tech companies.
How would that actually work? Through cryptocurrencies (also called tokens) and blockchains.
Essentially, when you own a token, you own a part of the network known as the blockchain. The more tokens you have, the more control you have over the network and the direction it goes.
On a day-to-day basis, tokens would play a role in most, if not all, digital interactions, from social media and games to digital art and events.
Critics of this approach say it would only be a veiled attempt at decentralization, as power would always be in the hands of the few with the most money.
When will Web3 be launched?
The short answer: We don’t know. There have been discussions around web3 for years now, but it is still in its infancy.
Much of the infrastructure needed to make this a reality is still under construction and there is no specific timeline for when it will be completed.
So why this sudden buzz? Well, cryptocurrency is booming right now. In fact, venture capitalists invested over $27 billion in crypto-related ventures in 2021, according to a New York Times article.
So this idea of an Internet built around it has everyone talking.
How Web3 Could Impact Marketers
1. Limited access to user data
In the short term, web3 could mean more data privacy for users.
Currently, companies make money based on the data they collect from users. Either using it to power their marketing strategies or reselling it to third parties.
Web3 proponents believe that a consumer should take a more active role in how their data is used and with whom they share it, given the immense value it represents.
Would that make it harder for marketers to collect consumer data? May be. This would force marketers to be more transparent in collecting and using data while finding new, creative ways to reach their target audience.
2. A more community-based approach
Web3 is all about redistributing power to the average consumer.
The idea is that consumers will decide and promote the ideas that interest them the most, instead of being the passenger. With this change, marketers will have to rely more on building a strong community.
As distrust of brands and how they use data grows, community is more important than ever.
3. More trust in content creators
Currently, many content creators feel at the mercy of the platforms they post on with strict guidelines on what they can post with limited earning potential. Web3 would arm them with total autonomy.
In a CMS Wire article, Charlie Neer of MIQ, one of the main programmatic media partners, explained this change.
“Currently, when an individual uploads a song, the creator receives a fraction of the total revenue and the host (think Spotify or Apple Music) poses as a bandit,” the chief revenue officer said. “The same goes for creators on YouTube, Twitch, etc. That’s going to change quickly with the Web3.0 revenue model, and content creators will be the ones in control.”
Of course, we are still a long way from web3 becoming a reality. However, this is something marketers need to be aware of and watch out for.